When astronauts had a problem out in space, you heard the familiar “Houston, we have a problem” radio call. With FCP X, the problem is in Cupertino. What if Steve Jobs was running NASA?
This story was inspired by Oliver Peters and the following really cool web site.
Astronaut: Cupertino, we have a problem. It seems that ten years of costly space flight training has gone up in smoke. None of the switches here in the space shuttle seem to do anything.
Cupertino: Switches are an antiquated control paradigm.
Astronaut: OK, that’s cool, but we’re trying to dock to the International Space Station in three minutes.
Cupertino: Docking isn’t really supported with the new space shuttle.
Astronaut: Excuse me? It’s the main thing we have to do! We fly up into space with stuff. Dock. Fly back. That’s pretty much the mission. Three things.
Cupertino: Well, you’ve got to admit that the launch was completely amazing right?
Astronaut: Well, yes. But there’s no gas pedal on this baby. You guys did all of the launch procedures for me.
Cupertino: We think it’s better that way.
Astronaut: Well, I spent twenty years flying supersonic jets and I prefer to have a bit more control.
Cupertino: Control is overrated. Seriously, just by saying you’ve been flying jets for twenty years, it’s obvious that you’re old and set in your ways.
Astronaut: Seriously? Do you know how many airplanes and helicopters I’ve learned to fly? Each of them has thousands of controls. Heck I can even drive trucks, motorcycles and I once piloted a unicycle.
Cupertino: I’m not really impressed. I created the controls which is much more important than actually doing the flying.
Astronaut: Look. I need to dock. If I can’t connect to the ISS the flight itself is pointless.
Cupertino: We removed the docking doors.
Cupertino: There was the danger that inexperienced astronauts would open them in mid-flight.
Astronaut: Inexperienced astronauts? Isn’t that an oxymoron? You trained me for 10 years!
Cupertino: Well, we want to send up younger astronauts now with less training and a willingness to “think different.”
Astronaut: I earned this damn job because I “think different.” But I’m still here because when the crap hits the fan, I can land in one piece.
Cupertino: Your point?
Astronaut: … OK. So we can’t actually complete the mission. I’m gonna pull a big ol’ U-turn and bring this baby back to the landing strip. … I can’t seem to find the navigation panel…
Cupertino: There you go with your old ways of thinking. Try the “home” button.
Astronaut: What if I didn’t want to come home?
Cupertino: Of course you want to come home.
Astronaut: Well, what if there was a hurricane at the landing site and we were running out of oxygen?
Cupertino: (sound of crickets… In space, no one can hear crickets, if crickets in space existed, but this is a George Lucas kind of space story.)
Cupertino: We hadn’t really considered that. We aren’t astronauts after all.
Astronaut: Well, we would have loved to consult with you. We could have told you some of the important stuff that is mission critical.
Cupertino: Astronauts are really stuck with old ways of thinking and can’t keep up with the folks here at mission control who are mainlining Mountain Dew and skateboarding to the bathroom whenever they need to take a crap.
Astronaut: … Never mind. I hit the Home button and it says that it can only import navigation commands from an Xbox.
Cupertino: I know. Cool, right? Talk about “awesome!”
Astronaut: Well, it would be cool, but I only have Halo installed and it’s a GOSH DARN IMAGINARY WORLD!!!! I need to get to CAPE FRICKING CANAVERAL!
Cupertino: Bummer. Xbox import seemed so cool and, we were on our way to ComicCon the week we programmed that, so we didn’t really have a lot of time to do something like import from Google maps or whatever “professional” solution you astronauts deemed. So I guess just go to manual controls.
Astronaut: Perfect. That’s why they sit us flyboys in the captain’s chair! … Uh, Cupertino, the joystick isn’t functioning.
Cupertino: Joysticks have been around for dozens of years. The Soviet Cosmonauts use joysticks and they’re really old-fashioned, so we disabled it.
Aastronaut: Well, maybe they’ve been around for dozens of years because they WORKED!!! Plus the Soviets beat us into space and regularly launch WAY more flights than Cupertino… flights that can actually DOCK and GET THINGS DONE, by the way. So if the joystick doesn’t work, how do I control the ship?
Cupertino: I know. Awesome, right?
Astronaut: Well, there’s an astroid headed for us, so I’d really rather not learn a completely new control paradigm at the moment, but, I’m a big boy and I’d love to learn.
Cupertino: It’s really, really easy. If you want to go left, just wave your hands to the left. To go forward, you push your hands forward. You’ll get the idea quickly.
Astronaut: Hey, this isn’t bad! Kind of cool! I like this. This is a whole new way of thinking! Very intuitive.
Cupertino: See! We think of everything.
Astronaut: OK, I’m starting to pull about 20G’s at the moment… keeping my hands floating in the air is …. a … little …. difficult….
Cupertino: What is a G? Isn’t he that cool director who did the Charlie’s Angels movie?
Astronaut: No. That’s McG. G’s are units of gravity.
Cupertino: There’s no need for G’s anymore. We call them “pushy stuff.”
Cupertino: The branding department felt Gatorade had a lock on the “G” brand and had already established that as a brand identifier. Plus it’s so old-school.
Astronaut: Well, if I need to be passed over to mission control in another part of the world, I can’t very well call them “pushy things.” Nobody will know what I’m talking about. Never mind. Look, since I’m about to black out from “pushy things” maybe I should just turn over control to the pre-programmed mission control flight plan we created from the previous mission?
Cupertino: Unfortunately, the current shuttle can’t use any of the flight plans from old missions.
Astronaut: WHAT??? Thousands and thousands of hours of meticulous planning and research went in to designing those previous missions. We have to go on the same mission nearly every year. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to the darn Hubble telescope.
Astronaut: “Sorry” isn’t going to cut it when the US Military wonders why the laser satellite we put into space last week can’t be found ever again.
Cupertino: I understand that Ford makes a program to convert some of the old flight plans. Maybe you should ask them to upload it to you.
Astronaut: OK. How much will that cost?
Cupertino: 27 billion dollars.
Astronaut: The darn space shuttle only cost 18 billion and I have to pay somebody else more than the cost of the shuttle to be able to talk to earth?
Cupertino: We didn’t think many people would need to talk to earth, so why spend the money?
Astronaut: OH… MY … GOD! Look, that’s too expensive. I’ll just look up the flight plans in the folder we keep under my seat for just such emergencies.
Cupertino: We took away the folder.
Cupertino: Folders are an old paradigm. Why put stuff in specific places when you can just ASK for it?
Astronaut: Well, I have to admit that that makes a heck of a lot of sense.
Cupertino: We know.
Astronaut: So I used to keep the important page I needed to keep from hitting the atmosphere at too sharp an angle right on top of the folder to be easy to find.
Cupertino: No need for that now. You just ask for the piece of paper and it appears now.
Astronaut: Holy crap! That IS amazing. You guys finally came up with something useful. So, then, “Please find me the important piece of paper with the re-entry instructions.” ….I’m getting nothing up here…
Cupertino: Well, you needed to add keywords to your piece of paper before you lost it.
Astronaut: I didn’t LOSE it! You took it from me. And I didn’t have time to add keywords to every piece of paper.
Cupertino: We took the liberty of adding keywords to your missing piece of paper ourselves.
Astronaut: Thank goodness, because it’s getting awfully warm in here. So what keywords can I search on for the re-entry instructions?
Cupertino: What color was the paper? How big is the paper? When was the paper written? What pen was used to write on the piece of paper?
Astronaut: It’s a white 8.5 x 11 inch piece of laserprinter instructions. Not ONE of those keywords is going to help me find my instructions among a thousand others that all match those same darn criteria! … Wait. It’s a miracle… It just floated by by accident and I snagged it out of thin air. Sweet. Now I can re-enter.
Cupertino: First, I’d add some keywords in case it floats away.
Astronaut: Well, I’m a little busy at the moment with critical re-entry procedures, but what the heck… OK, so the keywords are: re-entry, burn up, flight angle, atmosphere, troposphere and parabolic.
Cupertino: Perfect. See. Now, let go of the piece of paper.
Astronaut: This better work…
Cupertino: It will.
(Paper floats out of sight)
(58 pieces of paper appear)
Cupertino: Try using ALL of the keywords to get just the one piece of paper.
Astronaut: WHAT!? ….. re-entry, burn up, flight angle, atmosphere, troposphere and parabolic.
(all other papers disappear. The one re-entry form stays.)
Astronaut: Thank God.
Cupertino: No. Thank us.
Astronaut: Look, half of these instructions have to go to the flight control leader. So I can just let the paper float over to him and he says the magic keywords and the paper appears in front of him, right?
Astronaut: So what about all of the work I did assigning keywords?
Cupertino: He would have to assign his own keywords all over again.
Astronaut: That’s INSANE! How do we hand off important mission control assignments between all these specialists up here?
Cupertino: Younger, better astronauts will not need specialists.
Astronaut: I’m seriously thinking of learning Russian and becoming a cosmonaut at this point….Look, I am having some payload problems as we re-enter earth’s atmosphere and I need to hand control over to the payload specialist.
Cupertino: You can’t do that.
Astronaut: I HAVE to do that!
Cupertino: We disabled all of the communications between the various functions of the space shuttle.
Astronaut: Space missions are fricking complex! I am a certified MENSA genius, OK! I graduated from Yale, MIT, AND West Point at the top of every class. But I can NOT do a space mission by myself!
Cupertino: Younger astronauts will be better astronauts.
Astronaut: Well, that may well be, but at the moment you’ve got a whole lot of us OLD, ANCIENT 35 year old astronauts who need to get back to fricking mission control and will need to be physically restrained from delivering a serious butt-whooping to the geeks with the Janet Jackson headphones and keyboard terminals.
Cupertino: Our headphones are Bluetooth and we don’t use keyboards for typing anymore.
Astronaut: You aren’t going to be able to use teeth for chewing once I land. … IF I land. So I’m coming in for final approach. How do I deploy the landing gear?
Cupertino: We understand that landing gear was valuable on previous shuttles, but we’re thinking that big cushions will be easier for most people to land with.
Astronaut: OK. That’s cool. Where’s the switch to deploy the big cushions?
Cupertino: We are in talks with some third party solutions for big cushions at the moment.
Astronaut: Well, we are on final approach and we need SOME solution. Can we go back to the original solution for landing?
Cupertino: Unfortunately no. The new shuttle controls aren’t compatible with the old landing gear.
Astronaut: Hmmm. That puts us in a difficult position.
Cupertino: So you’re saying that you are too stuck in your ways to embrace the new cushiony technology?
Astronaut: Well, I would LOVE to embrace that technology actually. It sounds awesome. Is it ready?
Cupertino: Well, we really wanted to launch THIS mission and it seemed like space flight should be really COOL and … needs to be easy for non astronauts. All those controls were way too difficult.
Astronaut: Well, I am a FRICKING ROCKET SCIENTIST AFTER ALL! Why not provide me with SOME kind of landing solution? Also, I’m having trouble seeing the runway. The window is really … low rez.
Cupertino: We don’t really support using a clean window to see the mission. There wasn’t time to install the windshield wipers. Just kind of try to squint.
Astronaut: It’s really hard to see what I’m doing! Runway is approaching in T minus 10 seconds.
Cupertino: Seconds are really a silly, old-fashioned unit of time measurement. We call them “story page units” now.
Astronaut: OK, critical contact in T minus two story page units!
Cupertino: Got it. Please visit the Application Store in a few months…. Hello? Hello? Anyone out there?